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Working Paper: Employment Effects of Brownfield Redevelopment: What Do We Know From the Literature?

Paper Number: 2007-01

Document Date: 01/2007

Author(s): Marie Howland

Subject Area(s): Hazardous Waste; Land Use; Economic Impacts

Keywords: land cleanup; reuse; brownfields; employment effects

Abstract: The purpose of this review is to survey the literature addressing the employment effects of brownfield redevelopment. Economic development has emerged as a potential goal of the environmental cleanup process. The evolving literature (1) addresses the redevelopment and job creation that has followed the numerous cases of environmental remediation; (2) continues to debate whether brownfield redevelopment creates new jobs or leads to the spatial reallocation of existing jobs; and (3) documents emerging efforts to tie brownfield redevelopment benefits to local residents and the un- or underemployed.

The existing literature highlights the difficulties of moving from site cleanup to neighborhood revitalization. The literature is clear: site cleanup alone is typically not enough to stimulate neighborhood regeneration in the most distressed neighborhoods. There are tradeoffs between financial feasibility and tackling the most contaminated sites in the most distressed neighborhoods, and the redevelopment in these neighborhoods generally required large government subsidies. The literature highlights many positive developments and experiments. Apparent successes involve large scale plans that integrate site cleanup with wider community plans, the growing tendency to link jobs on brownfield sites to local residents, increasingly sophisticated subsidies and incentives, and the importance of design that integrates redevelopment with the existing neighborhood. To steer clear of gentrification, redevelopment strategies should focus on attracting employers who will hire local workers.

Published: Howland, Marie. 2007. "Employment Effects of Brownfield Redevelopment: What Do We Know from the Literature?" Journal of Planning Literature 22(2): 91-107.

This paper is part of the Environmental Economics Working Paper Series.

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